Simone Biles: ‘My mind and body are not in sync’

US gymnast describes ‘mental block’ which caused her to withdraw from Olympics

Simone Biles has provided more details on the mental block that has stopped her from competing in the team and all-around gymnastics finals at the Tokyo Olympics.

Biles, who withdrew from the team finals because of concerns about her mental health, opened up her Instagram story to questions about her mental block and provided detailed answers.

Initially accompanying Biles’s story were videos of Biles training on Friday morning in which she twice attempted her double-twisting double-somersault dismounts off uneven bars into a foam pit. In the first video Biles completed only half a twist before losing herself in the air and landing on her back. The second attempt was only fractionally better, with her completing 1½ twists before falling.

“For anyone saying I quit, I didn’t quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync as you can see here,” she wrote. “I don’t think you realise how dangerous this is on a hard/competition surface. Nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health.”



Biles says she has been training in Tokyo at an unspecified location with a foam pit that allows her to attempt her skills safely. Although she is off-sync on her skills in general, she says her mental block is specifically related to twisting. “Sometimes I can’t even fathom twisting,” she wrote. “I seriously cannot comprehend how to twist. Strangest and weirdest thing as well as feeling.”

Biles twists across all of her disciplines and it is usually one of the numerous strengths. Biles said that she has had mental blocks in the past on floor and vault, the apparatus that contain her most dangerous skills, but it currently affects every event she is competing in.

Those problems have previously taken two or more weeks to resolve but it is “something you have to take literally day by day, turn by turn. Literally cannot tell up from down. It’s the craziest feeling ever, not having an inch of control over your body. What’s even scarier is since I have no idea where I am in the air, I have no idea how I’m going to land or what I’m going to land on – head/hands/feet back.”

In addition to the women’s all-around event which she withdrew from, Biles qualified for all four event finals. The first day of the three-day event finals is on Sunday, with the vault and uneven bars final.

– Guardian